On Nov. 12, a post appeared on a 38-year-old woman’s social media accounts. It read: “A note to my friends: if you’re reading this I have passed away.”
Casey McIntyre, a book publisher with Penguin Random House in New York, was living in hospice care for five months before succumbing to stage four ovarian cancer. While many were surprised to learn that McIntyre prepared a statement to announce her own death, it wasn’t the only thing she had planned ahead for.
“To celebrate my life, I’ve arranged to buy up others’ medical debt and then destroy the debt,” she wrote on X, previously known as Twitter. “I am so lucky to have had access to the best medical care at [Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center], and am keenly aware that so many in our country don’t have access to good care.”
McIntyre created a “debt jubilee” fund through a charity called RIP Medical Debt, which uses donations to buy medical debt in bundles at a fraction of the original cost. Every penny donated buys approximately $1 – which means that the $460,000 donated thus far to McIntyre’s fund will wipe out $46 million in medical debt.
In an Instagram post, McIntyre’s husband, Andrew Gregory, called this “an eye-opening look at both our power to eliminate medical debt and how fictional and made-up so much crushing medical debt is.”
According to a new survey from research firm PerryUndem, nearly seven in 10 U.S. adults say they cannot afford all of their medical bills. Because of this, many people are forced to either delay paying bills, pay with a credit card or challenge bills.
RIP Medical Debt, founded in 2014 by two former debt collections executives, has helped eradicate $10.4 billion in debt for over seven million individuals and families, according to its website. However, McIntyre’s campaign has broken a record, according to Daniel Lempert, the vice president of communications for RIP Medical Debt.
“As far as a fundraiser, I don’t know if we’ve ever seen something kind of raise as much money as Casey’s campaign has as quickly as it has,” he told The New York Times. Lempert also noted that this campaign is the first RIP Medical Debt has seen to be launched posthumously.
Although McIntyre’s death has created an unfillable void in the lives of her family and friends – “it’s horseshit and we both know it,” she noted in her death announcement – her fundraising efforts will undoubtedly help so many others afford the same medical care that she received.
McIntyre’s family plans to hold the debt jubilee and memorial service Dec. 2 at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Boathouse, “hopefully with a bonfire if they will let us.”
Donations to McIntyre’s memorial fund can be made here.